bats and rabies

Archaeon being killed by his rabid hounds

According to Greek myth, the goddess Diana was bathing naked with her nymphs when Actaeon the hunter, fascinated by her beauty, crept up to watch.

Diana spotted him and in her rage turned all his hounds mad.

Henceforth the Earth had rabies...

On a more serious note, rabies is a viral disease which can be contracted by any mammal. In practice species differ in their susceptibility and symptoms. Rabies is an acute and deadly viral infection of the central nervous system of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Caused by a virus that is in the saliva of infected animals, rabies is usually transmitted by bites from infected animals. This disease causes a fatal inflammation of the brain, or of the brain and the spinal cord.

Rabies is almost always transmitted by a bite; however, non-bite exposures can and do occur. Contact with an infected animal’s saliva through an open wound or through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth), can result in rabies. According to Bat Conservation International, careless handling is the primary source of rabies exposure from bats.

 
Further Information

For more detailed information see the Bat Conservation Trust's webpage on bats and rabies.

DEFRA: Rabies Information

FAQ on rabies vaccinations (aimed at Licensed Bat Workers)

Scottish Natural Heritage: 'Bats & Human Health' (pdf, 97Kb)